Last week during our after-school program at Bancroft Elementary school, one of our staff noticed that there was a fifth grade student who was not doing his homework. When the staff would ask the student if he has any homework, his reply was always that he didn’t have any. The scenario of the student not doing homework and denying that he had any went on for several days. Our staff had some doubts about his answer, but because we didn’t want to embarrass him before the other students, we decided to wait for the parents to talk to this student.
When the confrontation between the child, the parents, and our staff finally came, it was very emotional and intense. For some time the student tried to deny the situation. However, it became very obvious that the child was lying and was simply not interested in doing homework. I advised the student that it was not good to cover up lies with more lies, and that he should apologize. Finally, the child was humbled, acknowledged his fault, and—through near tears—broke down and apologized to both his parents and our staff.
Upon hearing that her son was lying and not doing his homework, the mother broke down in tears. The mother in her limited English and Vietnamese accent said, “ If only I was good at English, I would help you your home work myself! This is the very reason why we enrolled you in AALEAD. We are so limited in how we can help you with your school work. We know that the AALEAD teachers will help you, but unless you help yourself we cannot do anything for you.” The father, while trying to hide his emotion, also had teary eyes, revealing his disappointment in the situation. Our staff assured the student and the parents that we would continue to be there to help them as much as we can.
It was an emotional but honest time for all of us. Those few moments of conversation with the parents, AALEAD staff, and the student illustrates how we must work as a team to help our students succeed. Each of us has a unique role to support our students. And additionally, the students must realize the importance of helping themselves.
Our emotional confrontation ended with the child making his own commitment. Sincerely he told his parents, “If I will lie again with my homework, I will not play my computer for one month!”